Gov’t trading company returns P5.2B to Treasury

THE PHILIPPINE International Trading Corp. (PITC) returned P5.2 billion worth of idle funds with interest to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) in the first half, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.

The DoF said in a statement Tuesday that it asked the trading arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to return the funds that had accumulated because of suspended projects in order to bolster the government’s finances during the public health crisis.

“(The request to return the funds) is in line with our continuous efforts to identify sources of fiscal space and to accommodate the country’s various medical and social needs as a result of the pandemic, compounded by the successive calamities which recently hit the country,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a letter to the DTI.

PITC also returned P1.89 billion to its client agencies for projects that were later on identified as no longer necessary, including projects by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Banos, the UP System, and the Department of Health (DoH). It also paid out P1.82 billion to suppliers in those six months.

The DoF said the PITC now has P22.7 billion in outstanding balances as of the end of June, down 28% from the end of 2020.

These included P16.6 billion in procurement funds from various government agencies, P5.62 billion for military procurement, and P450 million in savings, interest gains and funds yet to be returned.

Mr. Dominguez said in his letter that PITC’s interest earnings should be remitted to the Treasury, instead of being listed as interest income, since these were generated from the cash and investment balances transmitted by agencies.

Last year, the PITC returned P1.126 billion in interest income to the BTr.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon late last year flagged P33 billion worth of agency funds “parked” with PITC that should be instead returned to the BTr to fund the government’s pandemic response. — Beatrice M. Laforga